The Fashion Bully

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. What does this have to do with fashion? As fashion bloggers I believe we need to be aware of the messages we are sending to young girls about the importance of fashion. I’ve been writing for Style Envy for ten years. I also have a daughter in elementary school. My daughter knows how much I enjoy fashion and writing about it. My daughter also knows it is not the most important thing in my life. I think of it as a fun, creative way to express myself.

I am already noticing, and hearing about, young girls becoming aware of who is wearing what and earning elevated status by looking a certain way and wearing certain brands. Many brands worn by adult women are increasing becoming wardrobe staples for elementary school girls. Let your children know that they are not the clothes they wear. Someone is not a cool person because they are wearing the latest trends nor is someone uncool because they are not. Teach them what to do if they are being bullied or see someone being bullied.

Bullying comes in many forms; physical, verbal, cyber, and social. Social bullying is harder to identify because it’s more subtle and many times happens behind the victims back. Social Bullying involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships.

It can be anything from telling other children not to be friends with someone, leaving someone out on purpose, spreading rumors about someone or embarrassing someone in public. Social bullying can appear like a child is “joking around” only the recipient doesn’t feel that way.

As a child from a single parent household, I would have to wear the same top or pants to school several times a week. My mother made sure they were washed and pressed but in the minds of my classmates they were “dirty” because I had worn them several days earlier. Nora, who was a well-dressed girl from a wealthy family took a vested interest in what I was wearing. She would announce to the class that she was sick of seeing me wear my blue floral blouse, a blouse I really liked until that moment. She would later tell me she was only “joking” around. In reality she had set the stage for others to feel it was okay to judge me based on what I was or was not wearing. She never directly called me names or hit me but she did manage to make me feel like a social outcast among my classmates. When I was in my teens I developed a strong personal style, doing most of my shopping in thrift stores and Greenwich Village, NY. I was bullied again, this time for looking different. Through it all, I stayed true to myself. These experiences have taught me to take the impact of social bullying very seriously.

When my daughter told me a classmate told her that her boots were not the “real” designer brand, I sat down with her and pointed out all the wonderful qualities she has. Her boots will never be one of them, no matter what brand they are.

Here are a few helpful Anti-Bullying Resources for you and your children:

PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center
makes it easy to take action through educational resources, events, outreach, and activities.

End to Cyber Bullying Organization
is the world’s number one source for up-to-date cyber bullying information, news, legislature, and cyber bullying prevention tips. Instantly accessible online or phone assistance by certified and professional cyber bullying counselors, are available to any inquiring individuals.

Utterly Global
- Anti-Bullying programs aimed at empowering young people with the tools necessary to make socially responsible decisions.

The KIND Campaign - an internationally recognized movement, documentary and school program based upon the powerful belief in KINDness that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl “crime.” The Kind Campaign created a documentary film Finding Kind and KIND Magazine in which girls share their experiences about being bullied.

- gay, lesbian & straight education network. Through research-based interventions, GLSEN provides resources and support for schools to implement effective and age-appropriate anti-bullying programs to improve school climate for all students.

Written by Lorraine Nuzzo -

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